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This broccoli and garlic sauce recipe is a very simple concoction with few ingredients, but is packed full of flavor. If you find yourself with little time but want to make something impressive, this is a great go-to dish. And it is vegan-friendly if the cheese is omitted (or a non-dairy cheese substitute is used).
Tips & Substitutions
This recipe only calls for the broccoli florets, but you can save the stems for other dishes – they can be delicious if you slice them finely, and discard anything that is too fibrous. Just pop what’s left in the freezer in an airtight baggie or plastic container for later use.
Quickly cook your broccoli in the salted, boiling pasta water first. This will infuse the water with broccoli flavor, which will in turn infuse the pasta with the same delicious flavor.
As always, cook both the broccoli and the pasta al dente.
Be sure the broccoli is fairly dry before tossing it into the pan to saute, because the hot oil can splatter.
I use extra virgin olive oil only when I am not going to be cooking it.
If you are cooking or sautéing with olive oil, the regular, non-extra virgin type is perfectly fine to use, and you will not notice the difference in flavor between that and the tastier and pricier extra virgin type once it’s heated.
Save your extra virgin stash for those occasions that require an uncooked drizzle here and there.
If you feel the need to add a bit of extra olive oil when you’re saucing your pasta, feel free to use good quality extra-virgin olive oil, since you will not be heating it.
Cheese & Chili Pepper Flakes
Parmesan or another hard cheese can be sprinkled generously on top of the finished dish for garnish, along with some red chili pepper flakes for a bit of color and an added kick.
I actually add a touch of red pepper to most of my sauces – I love them on everything!
The amount of garlic can definitely be adjusted to your personal tastes, but I love to use lots.
It’s healthy, flavorful… what’s not to love?
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prepare Your Ingredients
Separate the broccoli into florets and mince your garlic (or cheat and use the stuff that comes pre-minced in jars).
Step Two – Prepare the Broccoli
Fill a large pot with water and toss in enough kosher salt to make it flavorful, but not so salty that it is offensive when you taste it. You can ruin the final product if your water is not salted correctly, so please do taste it!
Place the pot over high heat. Once the water is boiling, add the broccoli and cook until al dente.
Step Three – Prepare the Pasta
Remove broccoli with a slotted spoon and allow to drain while you cook the noodles until they are al dente, in the same water. Make sure the water has returned to the boil before adding the pasta. The amount of time required will be determined by the type of pasta that you are using. Here I used my homemade Semolina.
Drain the cooked noodles with a colander or a strainer until they are fairly dry, remembering to reserve at least a cup of the starchy water, in case you need it later to adjust your sauce.
Step Four – Sautéing
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil. Sauté the broccoli for a couple of minutes and then add the garlic (it will burn very quickly). If you burn the garlic, it will become very bitter – so keep an eye on what’s going on in that pan! As soon as it is fragrant and golden, it is done.
Now you have oil in the pan that is flavored by garlic and broccoli, and the pasta you cooked is already infused with the flavor of broccoli as well. You can see why this is a very tasty dish! Add a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper to the broccoli, to taste.
Step Five – Add the Pasta
Now toss in the pasta. Stir to combine until it is coated well with the oil, and warm enough to serve. It may have cooled a bit while you were making the sauce.
Step Six – The Plating
Serve topped with grated cheese and red chili flakes.
Broccoli and garlic is a popular combination that’s popular in many different types of cuisine. But I particularly love it here, as a simple sauce for pasta.
Feel free to create your own variations, adding your own favorite vegetables, and maybe even mixing in a little alfredo. Share your creations with me in the comments!
Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu and Kendall Vanderslice.
About Lori Jo Hendrix
Lori was born in southern California and currently resides in Mexico. She is an actress and model who also writes in the fields of nutrition, wellness, and cuisine. Her passions include working as a volunteer with various groups in the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured animals.